Byline: Aileen Mehle
World-shaking news from Gstaad! Curious and quidnunc-y friends of the Aga Khan’s only daughter, the lovely Princess Zahra, are wondering if her husband, Mark Boyden, will show up at the joint 30th birthday party Zahra is planning in Paris with her old boyfriend, Charles H. Price III, the son of former Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s Charles Price and his fashionable wife, Carol. The chums are also curious as to whether Mark will be aboard daddy Aga Khan’s yacht, Shergar, off Sardinia, for the festivities this summer. If he isn’t, well, hohoho.
You all remember the Prices. They were ever so popular and socially starry in London where they kept the American residence Winfield House humming with parties the world wanted to be invited to. As for Charles III — everyone calls him Chuck — some girls find him absolute catnip.
But to get back to Zahra, she and Mark have not been seen together much lately. He was noticeably absent from Gstaad this season, but Zahra wasn’t. You could have found her partying with her pals — very late — in the chic underground disco at the Palace Hotel. She’s hard to miss. She inherited her great good looks from her British mother, Sally Crichton-Stewart, a great beauty, who became the Princess Salima when she married the Aga but dropped the title when they divorced.
All the world’s a fundraiser. Ann and Gordon Getty and their nephew Tara, Golden Gaters of the first water and pillars of San Francisco society, opened up their really spectacular house in Pacific Heights to raise money for the African Foundation. You will be thrilled to hear that hundreds of thousands of dollars was mustered from the Getty’s little hot meal for 100. Robin Williams made a surprise appearance to act as auctioneer, and one of his first acts was to convince the bidder who had paid $30,000 for some vintage bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne to throw them back in. This is when Gordon Getty raised his hand and rebought the lot for $25,000. Dear Robin. Dear Gordon.
The Gettys have rebuilt everything in the house’s atrium, and this is where seven California chefs, including Harrison Ford’s son, cooked the dinner among the faux Roman columns Gordon so admires. When Robin Williams made his entrance, yelling “Hail Caesar, Hail Rome, Hail Russell Crowe,” he grabbed an antique Asian porcelain decoration on the table and said, “This is the one Ang Lee should have gotten.” Everyone just laughed and laughed. (Please don’t make me explain.)
It was Hilary Newsom, who serves on several important San Francisco boards, who pulled the evening together. The Newsom family are partners with the Gettys in their Napa winery and their ski resort called Plump Jack after an opera Gordon wrote about Falstaff. So that’s the way that works.
Enough with the Gettys and their fundraiser and on with the Rockefellers and theirs. Stephen and Kimberly Rockefeller, whose family provides a summer camp for inner city YMCA youths at the Mary French Rockefeller Environmental Educational Center (named after Laurance Rockefeller, his late wife) in Huguenot, New York, will join committee members Cornelia Guest, Muffie Potter Aston, Victoria Hearst and CeCe Cord at the Sky Club on Park Avenue on Wednesday. The reason all these lovely people with big names will be there is to support the New York YMCA’s Capital Campaign for Kids. Mayor Giuliani will show up to lend his support to Stephen B. Siegel, the ceo of insignia/ESG, one of the country’s big commercial real estate companies, and the head of the drive to raise $27 million to help the YMCA serve 200,000 children and teens annually by the year 2005. The group will be appropriately serenaded by a grateful child singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” I couldn’t tell you his name, but I can tell you he’s grateful.
Before she writes her second book, I’d better get around to mentioning that Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave looked lovely at the party at Le Cirque to celebrate the publication of her first book, “Villard: The Life and Times of an American Titan.” It’s all about her great-grandfather Henry Villard, Civil War journalist, financier, architect and owner of the New York Evening Post. Alexandra wore a purple silk Ferragamo cocktail suit with Giovane South Sea pearl earrings and a 19th century Russian amethyst, diamond and pearl choker. So very her.
The site of Le Cirque is, of course, the old Villard mansion, known as the Villard Houses, a national landmark and an elegant residence built in 1883 for the titan. He would be delighted to know that the publication party, hosted by editor and publisher Nan Talese, was a great send-off for his great-granddaughter’s upcoming schedule of more book parties and signings in New York, Washington, Chicago and Palm Beach during the next months. And this is who was there: Alexandra’s co-author, John Cullen; her husband, Arnaud de Borchgrave; her brother, Dmitri Villard; Alexandra and Taki Theodoracopoulos; Alexandra and Arthur Schlesinger; Kip Forbes; Gale Hayman; Edwina Sandys; Peter Olson, the chairman and ceo of Random House; Stephen Rubin, the president and publisher of Doubleday; Lucky Roosevelt; Judy and Ed Ney; Hilly Mahoney; Nada and Nemir Kirdar; Kenneth Jay Lane; Nan and Gay Talese, and dozens of others who looked right at home in the Villard mansion. Or at least in Le Cirque.